PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is backing the proposal to extend the Bangsamoro transition period to 2025.

spox 300x166 - Bangsamoro transition extension OK’d
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr.

In a press briefing on Thursday, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the President was willing to help in amending the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which limits the transition period to three years or up to 2022.

“Ang payo po ni Presidente kinakailangan ng batas ‘yan (The President advised that the extension should be legislated). He said he would help in amending the law but people from BARMM should really coordinate with congressmen and senators),” Roque said in a press briefing on Thursday.

The interim Bangsamoro Parliament earlier asked Congress through a resolution to extend the transition period of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao into the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) to another three years “to afford the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) sufficient period to fulfill its mandate.”

The BTA said the occurrence of the coronavirus pandemic has limited activities to carry out the full effective transition.

The transition as provided for in the law will end on June 30, 2022, after the first set of regular officials are elected.

If Congress extends the transition period, the schedule of the first regular election in the Bangsamoro will be moved to 2025.

BARMM Chief Minister Murad Ebrahim said in a podcast on PressOne, the BTA extension should be pushed to fully implement the promise of dismantling the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF), the armed wing of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF); dismantling of private armies, and creating a police force for the region.

Ebrahim, also the MILF leader, said the initially decommissioned 12,000 BIAF combatants are yet to receive the P1-million economic package the national government promised each in exchange for them returning to civilian life.

“Hanggang ngayon ay di pa naibibigay. So, iyun ang challenge, paano i-convince ‘yun mga susunod na combatants. Sasabihin nila wala namang nangyari dun sa nauna, bakit mag-decommission pa tayo (Until now, the promised compensation has not been given, so how could we convince the others to give up their arms)?’” he said, noting that the MILF has targeted to decommission 40,000 combatants.

Ebrahim’s number of combatants cannot be independently confirmed, but the Philippine military previously estimated the MILF fighters at 13,000.

The MILF signed a peace deal with President Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2014. Under the accord, the combatants would turn over their firearms to a third party, which would be selected by the MILF and the Philippine government. The MILF agreed to decommission the BIAF and in return, the government would establish a new Bangsamoro autonomous region and power sharing was a central point to the autonomy redesign.

With AL JACINTO

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